As much as I complain about email, I still like it. Receiving email shows that what I'm writing is touching people, for good or ill. I read and respond to every one—with the exception of the perennially negative, who get one response, and then are immediately put into the filter and never read again. My never responding does not seem to faze them. Many continue hectoring me, unperceived—I glance into the filter sometimes to see if anything wanted is there—like patients in some dim locked ward gibbering to the wall. I feel sorry for them, but helping is not within my power.
The complimentary are received with gratitude. Those raising valid points have those points addressed. Rare is the email that evokes something extra, but such was the case with the email below, which arrived with the dawn Saturday. Why don't you read it and see if what leapt out to me leaps out to you:
Hello Neil, or Neil's staff,Notice anything? It's the salutation: "Hello Neil, or Neil's staff." I thought that was incredibly sweet. "Neil's staff"? I mean, who could possibly live in a world where a guy like me would have a staff? And suddenly I was plunged into the dream that my reader, who asked that her name not be used, had evoked. I thought a moment, and replied with the following:
I want to comment that it looks like the Republicans have been holding their collective noses for so long that their noses have now become permanently pinched (hence, the label, "The Pinched Nose Party.")
My dad was a staunch Republican all of his life, but he finally became disgusted with the GOP in the last years of his life and felt forced to switch allegiance.
My father died in 2018, but I think that I can picture him, holding his fatherly nose and saying in a nasally voice, "desperado." It's not a good thing when our politicians, on either side of the aisle, become a bunch of desperate desperadoes.
Thank you for writing to the office of Neil Steinberg. Unfortunately, due to the incredible volume of email he receives, not all correspondence can be shared with him. However, you can be certain that were he to read your remarks about your father considering Republicans to be "The Pinched Nose Party," he would be gratified to learn them, and would in addition express condolences for the loss of your father, 2018 not being all that long ago.
Thank you also for reading the Neil Steinberg column. It is readers such as yourself, in Chicago, the United States and around the world, who have made the Neil Steinberg column a Chicago Sun-Times institution for nearly 25 years. Thank you as well for taking the time to write to Neil Steinberg. He highly values all his readers, and would wish you a good day, warmly and personally, if only he could.Best regards,
Senior Assistant to Mr. Steinberg
P.S. Kidding. I'm lucky to have a job, never mind a staff. I've never had an assistant or legman and, the economics of newspapering being what it is, if I did I would have lost him long ago. But it gave me a smile to imagine what that might be like, having a staff, and I hope you will forgive me a bit of Saturday morning levity. I of course feel all the sentiments above, having written them myself. Thanks again for writing.Sincerely,
Alas, no reply, so I have no idea how that was received, unless the reply is coming, via channels, some wildly indignant complaint even now filtering down through the Sun-Times hierarchy. But I didn't find anything offensive in it, and it certainly enlivened my morning, and as I say to new hires at the Sun-Times—or as I said, anyway, back when we actually had the chance to talk to each other—"Welcome aboard. If you're not having fun, you're doing this wrong."